By Hideki Mochizuki, Swimming World Japanese correspondent
TOKYO, Japan, May 18. IN a college dual meet at the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center, Kosuke Kitajima certainly had a chance to test one of the improved models supplied by Mizuno, but he elected not to.
In the morning race of the 200-meter breaststroke, he appeared with the same suit from the Olympic Trials in April and finished in an easy form of 2:15.10. Later in the afternoon in 100-meter, Kitajima finished in 1:00.82. As he did not test any new suit, strategic meaning of his appearance today became very shallow. Kitajima neither revealed why he did not test a new suit nor talked too much about the issue of swimsuits.
"I just hear good things about the LZR Racer," Kitajima said in a press conference. "It is natural that I have an interest in it. But, even people not swimming related now ask a lot of questions. It is bothering me."
"The sample was made and handed over to Kosuke just yesterday," a Mizuno spokesperson said. "There are other options but still nothing concrete has been decided within the company."
Kitajima's teammate Reiko Nakamura experimented with a Speedo LZR Racer today in both 100 and 200 backstroke. She went 1:00.02 in the 100 and 2:09.95 in 200.
"Competing, I thought it was going to be about high 60 seconds but obviously it was better than that," Nakamura said about her 100.
"They are in heavy training now and yet managed to swim fair times," Kitajima and Nakamura's coach Norimasa Hirai said. "I could see effectiveness of the suits."
Meanwhile, at the Santa Clara International Invitational, Yukihiro Okumura broke the Japanese record in the men's 200 freestyle with a 1:47.70 leadoff leg in the men's 800 freestyle relay. He was testing the Speedo LZR Racer, and in Japan, more than his Japanese record, what he was wearing got more attention.
Eventually, these occurrences are tightening the options for the Japanese Swimming Federation, and might force them to review the contents of their exclusive contract with Mizuno, Asics and Descente, which distributes the Arena brand in Japanese market.
The federation says it will make a final decision on the use of the other brands of swimsuits at the 2008 Beijing games on June 10.